Today, The Rainbow Project, the largest organisation in Northern Ireland which works to promote the health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people and their families expressed disappointment with a decision upholding the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.
Speaking after the judgment, Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty, said: ‘The Rainbow Project has been campaigning on this issue for over 10 years. The SABTO report was published 5 years ago and today’s judgment follows four years of legal proceedings and it is disappointing that their lordships have failed to recognise that there is no reasonable, rational or medical reason to maintain this lifetime ban, particularly in light of the fact that all other regions of the UK have moved to a temporary deferral.
‘Today’s judgment clarified that the issue of blood donations remains within the purview of the Northern Ireland Minster for Health, Social Services and Public Safety. We would once again urge Minister Hamilton to accept the advice given by the experts in SABTO and adopt the one year deferral which exists in all other parts of the UK.
‘This issue has been debated for over 5 years and tens of thousands of pounds of public funds have been spent on maintaining a lifetime ban. While the Minister may state that he has not yet made a decision, any right-thinking person would accept that 5 years is enough time to come to a decision. The evidence shows that allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood presents an infinitesimally small risk to the blood transfusion service and that maintaining this ban, without evidence to support it, sends the message that gay and bisexual men are inherently flawed. This must be remedied.’